Monday, December 25, 2017

Why This Mid-Winter Holiday is Important

It is that time of year again.

That's right, this is when I say something about this day and its impact on what we do this day, every year.

About two thousand-some-odd years ago, someone may or may not have been born who, in his 33 or 34 year life span, inspired stories that inspired events that (long story short) created the world in which we live today. At one point, someone even decided to count the years from the assumed year of his birth. Somewhere in there the observed date of his birth was moved to coincide with a mid-winter holiday, and here we are.

In time, the traditions surrounding the celebrations of his birth became entwined with the traditions of the mid-winter holidays wherever it was celebrated, until now we have this crazy hodge-podge melange of traditions filling our houses and bringing people together. On top of that, other religions and cultures have made their holidays of the season more culturally impactful, and other traditions of the season have even been created in answer to this. And in addition, the traditions around this season have become the greatest engine for consumption and economic activity in history (maybe. It sure feels that way. Someone else can do the math).

But more important than all this is the fact that, despite the economic impact, despite the lack of connection in the popular imagination with the sources of the many traditions that have been integrated into today's festivities, in spite of the fact that there are some who specifically have different traditions in this season, there is one through-line in all of it.

This is the time when we all are culturally obliged to forget our differences. We are encouraged to come together and be nice to each other.

If only we had more opportunities like that.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Poetry in the Age of Trump: The 7 Words the CDC Can't Say.

The following poem is in response to the news item covered in these reports:
Word ban at CDC includes 'vulnerable,' 'fetus,' 'transgender'
Holy fracking shit and piss. What the actual fuck is this?
Disease control requires words of precision,
Regardless of whether they are above the president's derision.
If "diversity" is not a thing you can say,
What is you need a variety of foods in a day?
"Entitlements" exist, for rich and for poor,
They won't go away just for wishing they were no more.
"Transgender" is a thing, I know several of them.
Believe it or not, there are things we can learn from them.
"Science-based" and "evidence-based" now has to go through community standards?
What if the community is wrong, you bastards.
If you cannot use the word "fetus,"
Tell me what is coming out of that woman's anus?
"Vulnerable" is maybe the most important word
The CDC can say, of all those that are heard.
Diseases attack, they prey and they kill.
They need controlling, or we all will be ill.
We are all vulnerable, some more than others,
And targeting is necessary to protect fathers, children, mothers.
So if someone is at risk, why should you not say
What means exactly that every single day?

My gosh and my god what are they thinking?
What are they smoking, what are they drinking?
Does everyone really need something to hate?
We are all going to die, sooner or late.
If someone is trying to help us live longer,
Shouldn't we be trying to make their work stronger?

Now if you don't trust "science," consider this:
How do they analyze what's in your piss?
Do you like cell phones, watches, and cars?
Do you like to take airplanes to travel far?
Do you like rayon and nylon and plastic and glue?
Do you like Vibram soles on the bottom of your shoe?
The device you read this on, do you like it well?
Did you grow up with Atari or toys from Mattel?
Does your camera take pictures, either digital or film?
Do you wear bifocals, use lotion on your skin?
Do you take medicine for a headache or cold?
Do you take a pill for an erection when you get old?
All those are things science has done for you.
But don't just trust me, you know this is true.

So if you don't like science, go live in a tent
Without central heating, air, or a vent.
Don't bother with soap, eat whatever you choose,
And there won't be a single tool you can use.
If after all that, you still will not give
A dollar to science that helps people live,
Then get out of that office you moved into not long ago,
Get on your feet and walk to Mar-A-Lago.

So if you want to go to the moon, you and VP Pence,
There's only one way to do it: It's called SCIENCE!

Now if you think you have something to say,
Say it in verse. Here, that is the way.